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Everything You Need to

Know About Marine Fuels

Everything You Need to
Know About Marine Fuels

Prepared by Monique B. Vermeire

Ghent, Belgium

This publication was prepared for Chevron Global

Marine Products by Monique B. Vermeire of the Marine
Lubricants and Fuels Technical Department, located at
Chevron Technology Ghent in Belgium. Monique does
exclusive work for Chevron Global Marine Products in
the area of fuel technology, with related field support
for matters concerning fuel quality issues. The Marine
Lubricants and Fuels Technical Department actively
supports Chevron Global Marine Products with
international fuel projects and at industry seminars.

Published by Chevron Global Marine Products

July 2007
Everything You Need to
Know About Marine Fuels

I. Introduction 1
II. Crude oil 3
1. How is a crude oil field formed? 3
2. Composition and classification of crude oil 3
3. Crude oil refining and stocks for marine fuel blending 3
III. Fuel oil 7
1. Fuel oil applications 7
2. Fuel specifications 7
2a. Significance of the marine fuel properties listed in ISO 8217:2005 10
2b. Correspondence of specifications and test methods 12
3. Test specifications and precision 13
4. Onboard fuel oil treatment 13
4a. Conventional cleaning with purifiers/clarifiers 14
4b. Advanced computer-driven fuel cleaning system 15
5. Fuel oil stability and compatibility 16
6. Commingling of fuels 17
7. Microbiological contamination 17
8. Fuel contamination in lubricants 18
Attachments 21
Attachment I: Crude oil refining 21
Attachment II: Reproducibility (R) of marine fuel test methods 22
Attachment III: Gas turbine fuel requirements 24
References 25

Reference in this brochure to any specific commercial product, process or service, or the use of any
trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the reader, and does not
constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Chevron Global Marine Products.
I. Introduction

Liquid fuel…combustion...mechanical energy

…propulsion energy and electricity
Through thermal plants, marine engines and gas turbines, the energy
obtained from fuel oil combustion is made available to fulfill our needs,
be it for transport purposes or for electrical power applications.

From the early 19th century until the third quarter of A series of innovations of the diesel engine followed,
the 20th century, steamships crossed the seven seas, which made it possible to use heavy fuel oil in medium-
gradually eliminating sailing ships from commercial speed trunk piston engines, pioneered by the MV The
shipping. Princess of Vancouver. In the mid-1950s, high alkalinity
cylinder lubricants became available to neutralize the
In the second half of the 20th century, the motor ship
acids generated by the combustion of high sulphur
started to dominate. The history of the diesel engine
residual fuels, and wear rates became comparable to
began in 1892 with Rudolf Diesel and twenty years later,
those found when using distillate diesel fuel.
the first four-stroke marine diesel engine ships were
operational. Diesel ships using residual fuel oil gained in popularity
and in the second half of the 1960s, motor ships
Around 1930, two-stroke designs took a strong lead as
overtook steamships, both in terms of numbers, and in
ships became larger and faster.
gross tonnage. By the start of the 21st century, motor
Between World War I and World War II, the share of ships accounted for 98 percent of the world fleet.
marine engine-driven ships increased to approximately
Marine engines have also found their way into the
25 percent of the overall ocean-going fleet tonnage.
power industry.

II. Crude Oil

1. How is a crude oil field formed? 2. Composition and classification of crude oil
The generally accepted theory is that crude oil was Crude oil is a mixture of many different hydrocarbons
formed over millions of years from the remains of plants and small amounts of impurities. The composition of
and animals that lived in the seas. As they died, they crude oil can vary significantly depending on its source.
sank to the seabed, were buried with sand and mud, Crude oils from the same geographical area can be very
and became an organic-rich layer. Steadily, these layers different due to different petroleum formation strata.
piled up, tens of meters thick. The sand and mud became Different classifications of crude oil are based on:
sedimentary rock, and the organic remains became
1. Hydrocarbons:
droplets of oil and gas. Oil and gas passed through
the porous rock and were eventually trapped by an • Paraffinic crudes
impervious layer of rock, collecting at the highest point. • Naphtenic crudes
The formation of an oil/gas field requires the presence • Asphaltenic (aromatic) crudes
of four geological features:
Each crude oil contains the three different types of
• Source rock: contains suitable organic matter, which, hydrocarbons, but the relative percentage may vary
under the conditions of heat and pressure, produces widely. For example, there is paraffinic crude in Saudi
hydrocarbons Arabia, naphtenic crude in some Nigerian formations
• Reservoir rock: a porous layer of rock in which the and asphaltenic crude in Venezuela.
hydrocarbons are retained 2. American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity: The lower
• Cap rock: a rock or clay, which prevents the hydrocar- the density of the crude oil, the higher its API gravity.
bons from escaping A higher API gravity means that the crude contains
more valuable lower boiling fractions.
• Trap: a rock formation bent into a dome or broken by
a fault which blocks the escape of the hydrocarbons 3. Sulphur content: The ever-growing concern for
either upward or sideways the environment and the impact on refining cost
calculations are the basis for this classification.
Most importantly, these four factors have to occur at
• Low sulphur crude
the right time, place and in the right order for oil and
gas to be formed and trapped. Currently, successful • High sulphur crude
petroleum exploration relies on modern techniques
such as seismic surveying. The fundamental principle 3. Crude oil refining and stocks for marine
of seismic surveying is to initiate a seismic pulse at or fuel blending
near the earth’s surface and to record the amplitudes
and travel times of waves returning to the surface after Petroleum refineries are a complex system of
being reflected or refracted from the interface(s) on multiple operations. The processes used at a given
one or more layers of rock. Once seismic data has been refinery depend upon the desired product slate and
acquired, it must be processed into a format suitable characteristics of the crude oil mix. Today, complex
for geological interpretation and petroleum reservoir refining has a definite impact on the characteristics of
detection. marine diesel and intermediate fuel oil (IFO) bunker fuel.

Typical refining schemes and the influence the cutterstocks used. The high amount of paraffinic
on marine fuels hydrocarbons in the straight run marine fuels leads to
relatively low densities for these products, ensuring easy
Straight run refinery and efficient onboard fuel purification.
Atmospheric crude distillation and further refining of The product slate of a straight run refinery, with its
distillates: heavy fuel production of approximately 50% of the
crude feed, does not correspond to the product demand
GAS in industrialized countries where the ever-growing
Distillates NAPHTHA demand for light products (jet fuel, gasoline, and gasoil)
KERO coincides with a strong reduction in the demand for
LIGHT DIESEL* heavy fuel (10 to 15% of the crude oil). This results in the
HEAVY DIESEL* need to convert the residue fraction into lighter, hence,
more valuable, fractions and to the construction of
Atmospheric complex refineries.
Crude Oil
A complex refinery processing scheme can be separated
into two parts:
1. Crude oil distillation (atmospheric and vacuum
2. Streams from the vacuum distillation unit are
* Diesel refers here to specific atmospheric distillation cuts, converted through catalytic and thermal cracking
and is not related to an engine application. processes.

Straight run stocks for marine fuel blending

Light diesel, heavy diesel, and straight run residue

Straight run marine gasoil and distillate marine

diesel (MDO)
Marine gasoil and distillate marine diesel oil (MDO)
are manufactured from kero, light, and heavy gasoil
fractions. For DMC distillate marine diesel up to 10–15%,
residual fuel can be added.

Straight run IFO 380 mm2/s (at 50°C)

This grade is obtained by blending the atmospheric
residue fraction (typical viscosity of about 800 mm2/s at
50°C) with a gasoil fraction.
Straight run lower viscosity grade IFOs
Blending to lower grade IFOs is done from the IFO 380
mm2/s (at 50°C) using a gasoil cutter stock or with
marine diesel.
All IFOs have good ignition characteristics, due to the
high percentage of paraffinic material still present in
the atmospheric residue, and the paraffinic nature of

Example: Complex refinery with (fluid) catalytic cracking and visbreaking


Crude Oil Atmospheric



Visbreaker Residue
* FCC: Fluidized Bed Catalytic Cracking
* LCO: Light Cycle Oil
* HCO: Heavy Cycle Oil

Complex refineries have been favored since the early Marine gasoil (MGO/DMA)
1980s and are intended to boost gasoline production.
A new blend component has appeared — light cycle (gas)
All further information herein is based on a complex
oil — that contains about 60% aromatics. Due to the high
refinery. The main marine fuel blending components
aromatic nature of LC(G)O, the density of a marine gasoil
from a fluidized bed catalytic cracking (FCC) refinery
blended with LC(G)O will be higher than when using
with visbreaker are the same distillates as those from a
gasoil from an atmospheric distillation refinery. The
straight run refinery (light and heavy diesel) as well as
density will typically be close to 860 kg/m3 (at 15°C). No
light cycle (gas) oil (LC(G)O) and heavy cycle oil (HCO)
performance or handling differences with atmospheric
from the catcracker and visbroken residue from the
gasoil are to be expected.
Note: Marine gasoil S max. legislation usually follows that
Atmospheric residue is used as feedstock for the vacuum
of gasoil for inland use. This is the case in the European
unit and will seldom be available for fuel blending.
Union (EU) where the max. S level of marine gasoil for
More detailed information on complex refining is use in territorial waters is currently 0.20 m/m % max.
provided in Attachment I. and subject to decrease to 0.10 m/m % max in 2008. This
has an effect on the acidity of the combustion gases, and
Marine fuels resulting from a catalytic cracking/
the alkalinity (BN) and dispersancy of the lubricant may
visbreaking refinery have a composition that is markedly
have to be adjusted accordingly.
different from that of an atmospheric refinery.

Due to logistics, it is possible that in some areas marine residue. Visbreaking affects the molecular structure:
gasoil is, in fact, automotive diesel (with added marker Molecules are broken thermally, and this can deteriorate
and dye and without the excise duty applicable to the stability of the asphaltenes.
automotive fuel). Currently in the EU a max. S level is
HCO (typical viscosity at 50°C: 130 mm2/s) contains
0.0050 m/m % max., and subject to decrease to 0.0010
approximately 60% aromatics, and is a high-density
m/m % max. in 2009. Again, the alkalinity (BN) and
fraction: the density at 15°C is above 1 kg/l (typically
dispersancy of the lubricant may have to be adjusted
1.02). It is the bottom fraction of the FCC unit. The
catalytic process of this unit is based on an aluminum
Distillate marine diesel (MDO/DMB) silicate. Some mechanical deterioration of the catalyst
occurs in the FCC process, and the resulting cat fines
Distillate marine diesel (commercial denomination) are removed from the HCO in the refinery. This removal,
typically has a lower cetane index than marine gasoil, however, is not 100% efficient and a certain amount
and has a higher density. With the production slate of a (ppm level) of cat fines remains in the HCO. From there
catalytic cracking refinery, distillate marine diesel can they end up in heavy fuel blended with HCO. (See also
therefore contain a higher percentage of LC(G)O than Chapters III-2)
marine gasoil.
The aromaticity of HCO assists in ensuring optimum
Note: Worldwide, marine diesel has a sulphur content stability for the visbroken fuel blend.
between approx. 0.3 and 2.0 m/m %. Due to recent EU
legislation (Directive 2005/33/EC amending Directive LC(G)O (typical viscosity at 50°C: 2.5 mm2/s) has the
1999/32/EC), the sale of marine diesel oil with a sulphur same aromaticity as HCO, but is a distillate fraction of
content above 1.5 m/m % within the EU is prohibited as of the FCC unit, with a distillation range comparable to that
August 11, 2006. of gasoil. With a typical density of 0.94 kg/l at 15°C, it
is used to fine-tune the marine heavy fuel oil blending
Blended marine diesel (MDO/DMC) where generally a density maximum limit of 0.9910 kg/l
With atmospheric refining, blended marine diesel (MDO/ has to be observed.
DMC) can contain up to 10% IFO with either marine IFOs < 380 mm2/s
gasoil (MGO/DMA) or distillate marine diesel (MD)/DMB).
With complex refining, MDO/DMC no longer corresponds These grades are generally blended starting from 380
to a specific composition and extreme care must be used mm2/s IFOs (at 50°C), by using a suitable cutterstock
when blending this grade to prevent stability and/or (marine diesel, gasoil, LC(G)O, or a mixture of these). The
combustion problems. blend composition has to be construed in such a way
that the product stability is safeguarded, while at the
IFO-380 same time direct or indirect density limits are fulfilled.
This grade is usually manufactured at the refinery and (See also Chapters III-2)
contains visbroken residue, HCO and LC(G)O. These
three components influence the characteristics of the
visbroken IF-380.
Vacuum distillation reduces the residue yield to about
20% of the crude feed, unavoidably leading to a
concentration of the heaviest molecules in this fraction.
Visbreaking converts about 25% of its vacuum residue
feed into distillate fractions. This means that about 15%
of the original crude remains as visbroken residue. The
asphaltenes1, sulphur and metal content in visbroken
residue are 3 to 3.5 times higher than in atmospheric

1 Asphaltenes: residual fuel components that are insoluble in heptane

but soluble in toluene

III. Fuel Oil

1. Fuel oil applications in the second half of the 1970s from straight run to
complex refining.
All fuel oil applications create energy by burning fuel oil.
Fuel oil combustion (oxidation reaction) releases a large 1982 saw the publication of marine fuel specification
amount of heat, which can be used for steam generation, requirements by the British Standard Organization
for example, in steam turbines. The high volume (BS MA 100), and by CIMAC (Conseil International de
(pressure) of the combustion gases can be used to drive Machines à Combustion).
an engine, or (less frequent for HFO, but widespread for
An international ISO standard has existed since 1987:
gasoil) a gas turbine.
ISO 8217. The stated purpose of ISO 8217 is to define
When fuel oil is burned, an amount of heat is released, the requirements for petroleum fuels for use in marine
which is defined by the specific energy (international diesel engines and boilers, for the guidance of interested
unit MJ/kg) of the fuel. parties such as marine equipment designers, suppliers
and purchasers of marine fuels. These specifications are
Thermal plants use this heat to generate steam, which regularly revised to accommodate changes in marine
then drives steam turbines, thus providing mechanical diesel engine technology, crude oil refining processes
energy that can be used for propulsion or to be and environmental developments. The ISO 8217:2005
converted into electrical energy. specifications for marine fuels will be discussed in detail
For marine engines and gas turbines, mechanical energy in Chapter III-2a (see pages 8 & 9, Tables 1 & 2).
provided by the combustion gases is used either directly The most important specifications to ensure reliable
for propulsion or converted into electrical energy for engine operation with fuel originating from complex
power plants. For larger installations, cost efficiency refining are:
optimization and environmental constraints led to the
introduction of co-generation. In co-generation, some of • Maximum density limit: Important for classical purifier
the electrical energy lost is used to generate low-pressure operation and to ensure satisfactory ignition quality
steam, suitable for a wide range of heating applications. for low viscosity fuel grades
• Maximum Al+Si limit: In a complex refinery, HCO
2. Fuel specifications is used as a blending component. Mechanically
Different types of fuel oil applications and environmental damaged aluminum silicate catalyst particles of
considerations have led to different types of fuel oil the catalytic cracker are not completely removed
specifications. These are much more demanding than from the HCO stream, and are found back in mg/kg
the original fuel oil n° 6 or Bunker C requirements when amounts in heavy fuel blended with HCO. In order to
all heavy fuel was used for thermal plants and steam avoid abrasive damage in the fuel system onboard
turbines. Emission standards for thermal plants can vary the vessel, it is necessary to limit the amount of Al+Si
widely, depending on the geographical area. Since all to a level, which can be adequately removed by the
emitted SO2 originates from sulphur in the fuel, emission ship’s fuel cleaning system.
standards on SO2 automatically limit the sulphur content • Maximum total potential sediment limit: The stability
of the fuel, except for large combustion plants, where of asphaltenes is deteriorated by the visbreaking
the standard can be economically met by flue gas process, and instability problems can cause fuel
desulphurization. purification and filter-blocking problems, hence the
In the late 1960s, marine diesel engines were the need for a specification to ensure adequate fuel
primary means of ship propulsion. Through the late stability.
1970s, marine engine heavy fuel oil grades remained A less widespread application of heavy fuel is found in
identified solely by their maximum viscosity. This worked heavy-duty gas turbines: Here the fuel specification
well with heavy fuel originating from atmospheric requirements before the injection are very severe,
refineries. Fuel-related operational problems arose and can only be obtained by an extremely thorough
with the generalized upgrading of refinery operations precleaning of the fuel.
continued on page 10

Table 1: Requirements for marine distillate fuels
Category ISO-F
Characteristic Unit Limit Test method
DMX DMA DMB DMCa reference

Density at 15°C kg/m3 max. — 890.0 900.0 920.0 ISO 3675 or ISO 12185
(see also 7.1)

Viscosity at 40°C mm2/sb min. 1.40 1.50 — — ISO 3104

max 5.50 6.00 11.0 14.0 ISO 3104

Flash point °C min. — 60 60 60 ISO 2719

min. 43 — — — (see also 7.2)

Pour point (upper) c

– winter quality °C max. — –6 0 0 ISO 3016
– summer quality max. — 0 6 6 ISO 3016

Cloud point °C max. –16 — — — ISO 3015

Sulfurc % (m/m) max. 1.00 1.50 2.00 e 2.00 e ISO 8754 or

ISO 14596
(see also 7.3)

Cetane index — min. 45 40 35 — ISO 4264

Carbon residue on
10% (V/V) distillation
bottoms % (m/m) max. 0.30 0.30 — — ISO 10370
Carbon residue % (m/m) max. — — 0.30 2.50 ISO 10370
Ash % (m/m) % (m/m) max. 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.05 ISO 6245

Appearance f — — Clear and bright f — See 7.4 and 7.5

Total sediment,
existent % (m/m) max. — — 0.10 f 0.10 ISO 10307-1 (see 7.5)

Water % (V/V) max. — — 0.3f 0.3 ISO 3733

Vanadium mg/kg max. — — — 100 ISO 14597 or IP 501 or

IP 470 (see 7.8)

Aluminium plus silicon mg/kg max. — — — 25 ISO 10478 or IP 501

or IP 470 (see 7.9)

Used lubricating oil (ULO) The fuel shall

– Zinc mg/kg max. — — — be free of IP 501 or IP 470
– Phosphorus mg/kg max. — — — ULO g 15 IP 501 or IP 500
– Calcium mg/kg max. — — — 15 IP 501 or IP 470
30 (see 7.7)

a Note that although predominantly consisting of distillate fuel, the residual oil proportion can be significant.
b 1 mm 2 /s = 1 cSt
c Purchasers should ensure that this pour point is suitable for the equipment on board, especially if the vessel operates in both the northern and southern
d This fuel is suitable for use without heating at ambient temperatures down to —16°C.
e A sulfur limit of 1.5 % (m/m) will apply in SOx emission control areas designated by the International Maritime Organization, when its relevant protocol
enters into force. There may be local variations, for example the EU requires that sulphur content of certain distillate grades be limited to 0.2 % (m/m)
in certain applications.
f If the sample is clear and with no visible sediment or water, the total sediment existent and water tests shall not be required.
g A fuel shall be considered to be free of used lubricating oils (ULOs) if one or more of the elements zinc, phosphorus and calciumare below or at the specified
limits. All three elements shall exceed the same limits before a fuel shall be deemed to contain ULOs.

Table 2: Requirements for marine residual fuels
Category ISO-F
Characteristic Unit Limit
30 30 80 180 180 380 380 380 700 700 reference

ISO 3675
Density at 15°C kg/m3 max. 960.0 975.0 980.0 991.0 991.0 1010.0 991.0 1010.0 or ISO 12185
(see also 7.1)

viscosity at 50°C mm2/sa max. 30.0 80.0 180.0 380.0 700.0 ISO 3104
Flash point °C min. 60 60 60 60 60 ISO 2719 (see also 7.2)
Pour point (upper)b
– winter quality °C max. 0 24 30 30 30 30 ISO 3016
– summer quality °C max. 6 24 30 30 30 30 ISO 3016
Carbon residue % (m/m) max. 10 14 15 20 18 22 22 ISO 10370
Ash % (m/m) max. 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.15 0.15 0.15 ISO 6245
Water % (V/V) max. 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 ISO 3733
Sulfur c % (m/m) max. 3.50 4.00 4.50 4.50 4.50 ISO 8754 or ISO 14596
(see also 7.3)
ISO 14597 or
Vanadium mg/kg max. 150 350 200 500 300 600 600 IP 501 or
IP 470 (see 7.8)
Total sediment
potential % (m/m) max. 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.10 ISO 10307-2 (see 7.6)

Aluminium plus ISO 10478 or IP 501 or

silicon mg/kg max. 80 80 80 80 80 IP 470 (see 7.9)
Used lubricating
oil (ULO) The fuel shall be free of ULOd
– Zinc mg/kg max. 15 IP 501 or IP 470 (see 7.7)
– Phosphorus max. 15 IP 501 or IP 500 (see 7.7)
– Calcium max. 30 IP 501 or IP 470 (see 7.7)

a Annex C gives a brief viscosity/temperature table, for information purposes only. 1 mm 2 /s = 1 cSt
b Purchasers should ensure that this pour point is suitable for the equipment on board, especially if the vessel operates in both the northern and
southern hemispheres.
c A sulfur limit of 1.5 % (m/m) will apply in SOx emission control areas designated by the International Maritime Organization, when its relevant
protocol comes into force. There may be local variations.
d A fuel shall be considered to be free of ULO if one or more of the elements zinc, phosphorus and calcium are below or at the specified limits.
All three elements shall exceed the same limits before a fuel shall be deemed to contain ULO.

The fuel treatment consists of the removal of the not represent combustion conditions in an engine.
alkalimetals by fuel precleaning and inhibition of It gives an indication of the amount of hydrocarbons in
vanadium-induced corrosion by injecting magnesium- the fuel which have difficult combustion characteristics,
containing additives that react with the vanadium to but there is no conclusive correlation between carbon
form non-corrosive compounds. The heavy-duty gas- residue figures and actual field experience. The micro
turbine application of heavy fuel is further discussed in carbon residue method is specified by ISO 8217.
Attachment II.
2a. Significance of the marine fuel The ash content is a measure of the metals
properties listed in ISO 8217:2005 present in the fuel, either as inherent to the fuel
or as contamination.
Kinematic viscosity:
Flash point:
Kinematic viscosity is a measure for the fluidity of the
product at a certain temperature. The viscosity of a fuel Flash point is the temperature at which the vapors of a
decreases with increasing temperature. The viscosity fuel ignite (under specified test conditions), when a test
at the moment the fuel leaves the injectors must be flame is applied. The flash point for all fuels to be used
within the limits prescribed by the engine manufacturer in bulk onboard vessels is set at PM, CC, 60°C minimum
to obtain an optimal spray pattern. Viscosity outside (SOLAS agreement). DMX, a special low cloud point
manufacturers’ specifications at the injectors will lead gasoil, may only be stored onboard in drums because of
to poor combustion, deposit formation and energy its < 60°C flash point.
loss. The viscosity of the fuel must be such that the
required injection viscosity can be reached by the ship’s
preheating system. The sulphur content of a marine fuel depends on the
crude oil origin and the refining process. When a fuel
Density: burns, sulphur is converted into sulphur oxides. These
The official unit is kg/m3 at 15°C, while kg/l at 15°C is the oxides reach the lubricating oil via the blow-by gas.
most commonly used unit. Density is used to calculate These oxides are corrosive to engine piston liners and
the quantity of fuel delivered. The density gives an must be neutralized by the cylinder lubricant. Marine
indication of the ignition quality of the fuel within a engine lubricants are developed to cope with this acidity
certain product class. This is particularly the case for (high BN). If the correct lubricant is used, the sulphur
the low-viscosity IFOs. The product density is important content of a marine fuel is technically not important but
for the onboard purification of the fuel; the higher the may have environmental implications.
density, the more critical it becomes (see Chapter III-4 Therefore, Annex VI to Marpol 73/78 currently requires
on fuel oil treatment). the sulphur content of any fuel oil used onboard ships
Cetane index: not to exceed 4.5 m/m % max. In 2006, both Annex VI
and the EU directive 2005/33/EC have restricted the
Cetane index is only applicable for gasoil and distillate SOx emissions of ships sailing in the Baltic Sea SECA
fuels. It is a measure for the ignition quality of the fuel (Sulphur oxides Emission Control Area) to 6 g/kWh which
in a diesel engine. The higher the rpm of the engine, the corresponds to a fuel oil sulphur content of maximum
higher the required cetane index. The cetane index is 1.5 m/m %. In addition, the EU directive extended the
an approximate calculated value of the cetane number, 1.5 m/m % S limit to ferries operating to and from any
based on the density and the distillation of the fuel. The EU port. In 2007, the North Sea and English channel will
cetane index is not applicable when cetane-improving become a SECA area where the 1.5 m/m % S limit will
additives have been used. also apply.
Carbon residue: The EU directive also has set a limit of 0.1 m/m% max on
the sulphur content of marine fuels used by ships
Carbon residue is determined by a laboratory test
at berth (and by inland waterways), effective
performed under specified reduced air supply. It does
January 1, 2010.

The process to review already enacted environmental The biggest risk for sediment formation in heavy fuel is
legislation in order to further reduce emissions has due to potential coagulation of organic material inherent
already started. Therefore, the limits and requirements to the fuel itself. Visbroken asphaltenes, if insufficiently
stated above are subject to change. stable, can form sediment (coagulation is influenced
by time and temperature). A decrease in aromaticity of
Water content: the fuel matrix by blending with paraffinic cutterstocks
Water in fuel is a contamination and does not yield can also deteriorate the stability of the asphaltenes.
any energy. The percentage of water in the fuel can In cases of heavy fuel instability, only a relative small
be translated into a corresponding energy loss for the fraction of the asphaltenes forms sediment, but this
customer. Water is removed onboard the vessel by organic sediment includes in its mass some of the fuel
centrifugal purification. If after purification, the water itself, and water (onboard purifying problems), and the
content remains too high, water vapor lock can occur amount of generated sludge can become quite high. The
and pumps can cut out. If water-contaminated fuel total potential sediment is the total amount of sediment
reaches the injectors, combustion can be erratic. Water that can be formed under normal storage conditions,
in fuel that remains standing in lines for a longer period excluding external influences. If the total potential
can cause corrosion. sediment of the heavy fuel oil markedly exceeds the
specification value (0.10% m/m max) for all grades of
Pour point: IFOs and HFOs), problems with the fuel cleaning system
Pour point is the lowest temperature at which a fuel can occur, fuel filters can get plugged and combustion
will continue to flow when it is cooled under specified can become erratic.
standard conditions. Contrary to straight run heavy Catalytic fines:
fuels (pour point typically in the +w20°C range), bunker
fuels from a complex refinery generally have pour Heavy cycle oil is used worldwide in complex refining
points below 0°C (range –10 to –20°C). This is because as a blending component for heavy fuel. Mechanically
bunker fuel tanks are usually not completely heated damaged catalyst particles (aluminum silicate) cannot
— only before the fuel transfer pump. This can then be removed completely in a cost-effective way, and are
lead to problems if a vessel receives high pour straight found in blended heavy fuel. Fuel precleaning onboard
run bunker fuel. For distillate marine diesel, the cold ships has a removal efficiency of approximately 80% for
temperature behavior is controlled in ISO 8217 by a pour catalytic fines. In order to avoid abrasive wear of fuel
point maximum. With marine diesels with a high content pumps, injectors and cylinder liners the maximum limit
of heavier n-paraffins, vigilance is required if strong for Al+Si defined in ISO 8217 is 80 mg/kg.
temperature changes are expected. (Wax settling can
Used lubricating oil (ULO):
occur, even when the pour point specification is met.)
The use of used lubricants (predominantly used motor
Elements: vehicle crankcase oils) in marine fuels first surfaced as a
Vanadium and nickel are elements found in certain potential problem in the mid-1980s. Both CIMAC and ISO
heavy fuel oil molecules (asphaltenes). Upon 8217 working groups have discussed the technical and
combustion, vanadiumoxides are formed, and some have commercial considerations at length. Calcium, zinc and
critical melting temperatures. The most critical are the phosphorous are considered “fingerprint” elements of
double oxides/sulphates with sodium. Some countries ULOs, and limits for these elements have been set in ISO
have implemented maximum Ni concentrations for inland 8217:2005. A fuel oil is considered to contain ULO only
use of heavy fuel. when all three elements simultaneously exceed these
limits. This, however, does not necessarily imply that
Total sediment potential: the fuel oil is not suitable for use. Generally, 10 mg/kg
Inorganic material naturally occurring in crude oil is Zn corresponds to approximately 1% used oil in the fuel.
removed in the refineries prior to the atmospheric This is only an approximation; the zincdithiophosphate
distillation. Some minor contamination (for example, content of lubricants can vary considerably.
ironoxides) of a finished heavy fuel can not be excluded.

Calculated carbon aromaticity index (CCAI): however, vary considerably between different types and
manufacturers of aluminum silicate catalyst. This is why
CCAI is an indicator of the ignition delay of an IFO. CCAI
the test measures the sum of Al and Si. In practice, the
is calculated from the density and the viscosity of the
two ways of limiting the catalytic fines content in heavy
fuel oil. Although it is not an official specification, it has
fuel give the same degree of protection.
found its way into many users’ bunker fuel specification
requirements. Some manufacturers specify CCAI Total sediment existent and total sediment potential:
limits for their engines, depending on engine type and
application. Differentiation can be made between tests for inorganic
sediment and organic sediment, existent sediment and
potential sediment.
2b. Correspondence of specifications and
test methods According to ISO 8217:2005, the former limit on
inorganic sediment (rust, sand) applicable to DMB
ISO 8217:2005 lists test requirements and methods marine diesel has been replaced by the requirement to
for testing. While these methods should be used measure the total sediment existent (ISO 10307-1) on all
worldwide for testing marine fuels, experience has DMB category products that fail the visual inspection
shown that they are not. In some areas, precursors of requirement to be free from visible sediment and water.
the presently defined ISO methods are still being used.
The correspondence (discrepancy) between such test Organic type sediment can occur in DMB and DMC
methods/results and the test methods/data of ISO 8217 marine diesel and in intermediate fuel oils. The cause
are described hereafter. of the formation of organic sediment resides in the
thermal cracking of the heaviest molecules of crude,
Density: generally in visbreaking operations. Asphaltenes, the
The mass (weight in vacuum) of the liquid per unit heaviest molecules of crude, can become unstable by
volume at 15°C. Official unit: kg/m3 . Often used variant: thermal cracking, and must be carefully monitored by
kg/l. The density limits in ISO 8217 are expressed in the refineries. Once visbroken, the asphaltenes are more
kg/m3 . Specific gravity 60/60°F: Specific gravity is the or less sensitive to changes in the aromaticity of the
ratio of the mass of a given volume of liquid at 60°F to total fuel matrix. This must be taken into account for
the mass of an equal volume of pure water at the same fuel blending when using visbroken heavy fuel and gasoil
temperature. No unit. (paraffinic) blending stocks. The asphaltene sediment
formation is a function of time and temperature
API gravity: (excluding external influences), and an unstable fuel will
only reach its final sediment formation after a certain
A function of the specific gravity 60/60°F. API gravity is
storage time. The sediment present in a sample of heavy
expressed as degrees API.
fuel at a certain moment is given by the total existent
API gravity, deg = (141.5 / spec. gr. 60/60°F) –131.5 sediment test, but there is no certainty that this figure
corresponds to the condition of the bulk of the fuel
Micro Carbon Residue (MCR): at that same time. The total potential sediment test
MCR is the carbon residue test prescribed by ISO shows the total amount of sediment that can be formed
8217:2005. Formerly, the carbon residue test was under normal storage conditions, excluding external
Conradson Carbon Residue. MCR is quicker and more influences. The prescribed test method is ISO 10307-2
precise than CCR. (IP 390+375 is equivalent).

Al+Si: The test method originally used in the industry for

determining the total sediment was the Shell Hot
The ISO 8217 prescribed test methods are ISO 10478 Filtration Test. The test results can be existing sediment
or IP 501 or IP 470. Only these methods and fully or potential sediment, depending on the ageing
equivalent methods from national standardization procedure. The results of this test are not equivalent t0
organizations should be used. A former industry-wide those of ISO 10307-2, due to a difference in the solvent
limit for catalyst fines in heavy fuel was defined on Al used for the test. The Shell Hot Filtration Test with
alone (30 mg/kg max.). The ratio between Al and Si can, ageing generally gives slightly higher results.

Viscosity: when the result exceeds the specification limit by more
than 0.59R upper limit (where R is reproducibility of the
Kinematic viscosity is the only accepted method,
test method), and more than 0.59R lower limit.
expressed in mm2/s at a certain temperature. ISO
8217:2005 lists the maximum kinematic viscosities at The significance of reproducibility should not be
50°C (note: 1 mm2/s = 1cSt). SSU, SSF and RW1 (Saybolt underestimated. It is the basis for all quality control
Seconds Universal, Saybolt Seconds Furol and Redwood against specifications. Without reproducibility data, test
No. 1) are obsolete units. results would lose a major part of their significance,
since there would be no way to define how close a test
3. Test specifications and precision result approaches the true value.

ISO 8217:2005 not only specifies the requirements for Attachment II lists the methods for marine fuel testing
marine distillate and residual fuels and the test method listed in ISO 8217:2005, together with reproducibility.
references, it also lists ISO 4259:1992, “Petroleum Whenever national standardization methods of
products — determination and application of precision testing are used, the full correspondence with the ISO
data in relation to methods of test”. prescribed method has to be checked. There can also be
some differences in the precision data.
The application of precision data in relation to methods
of test automatically assumes that acquiring the sample
4. Onboard fuel oil treatment
was performed to the best industry standard possible,
and that the sample is representative for the supply. In the late 1970s, the increasing market demand for
Experience shows that the sample itself is often the distillate fuels (gasoline, diesel) and the resulting
weakest point in the chain. Chevron recognizes only the changes in refinery processes to cope with this demand,
bunker fuel retain samples taken by its representative resulted in a deterioration of heavy fuel quality. Efficient
(for example, bunker barge attendant) at the moment of cleaning of heavy fuel oil is mandatory to achieve
bunkering as valid. reliable and economical operation of diesel engines
burning heavy fuel.
Should a dispute arise due to a difference between test
data obtained on valid retain samples by two different Examples:
laboratories (one acting on behalf of the supplier, the
• Water is a common contaminant in fuel oil. Except for
other on behalf of the customer), ISO 4259 should
water content in the fuel oil due to transport, there
be used to evaluate the validity of the results. If the
can be a further contamination in the storage tank
reproducibility of the test method is met, both values
due to water condensation as a result of temperature
are considered acceptable, and the average of the two
is taken as the true value. If the reproducibility is not
met, both results have to be rejected, and the guidelines • Catalyst fines from aluminum silicate catalyst used
set forth in ISO 4259 should be followed to solve the in the catalytic cracking process may end up in the
problem. This can be very time-consuming, and is very heavy fuel and need to be removed to avoid
seldom done in practice. Both parties generally agree to abrasive wear of various engine parts.
the use of a third laboratory, the result of which will then
Fuel from the storage tank is pumped to the settling tank
be binding for both parties.
and contaminants (water, solids) sink to the bottom of
Let it be noted that reproducibility limits are only the tank under influence of the gravity force (g). The rate
applicable between two analysis figures on the same of separation by gravity, Vg is defined by Stokes’ law:
sample (or samples considered as being the same). The
reproducibility of a test method may not be invoked to Vg = [d2 (D2 - D 1) / 18 ] g
explain a deviation against a specification limit. d: particle diameter
The testing margin, however, has an effect on a single D2: particle density
result; for example, the analysis result on a certain D 1: density of the fuel oil
specification test obtained by the end user. If the end : viscosity of the fuel oil
user has no other information on the true value of the g: gravitational acceleration
characteristic than a (single) test result, the product fails
Complete separation in a reasonable period of time can If the interface is in an incorrect position (see Figure 3),
only be achieved by mechanically generated centrifugal the oil to be cleaned will pass through only the lower
force. Fuel from the settling tank is fed to a centrifugal part of the disc stack, since the upper part is blocked
system or purifier and water and solids are separated with water. Thus, separation is inefficient because only
out of the fuel. The rate of separation in a centrifugal part of the disc stack is being used.
field (V) is defined as:
V = Vg × Z
Where Z equals r 2/g (r = distance of the particle from
the axis of rotation,  is the angular velocity). The
factor Z specifies how much greater the sedimentation
rate is in the centrifugal field compared to the
gravitational field.

4a. Conventional cleaning with

The increasing difference in density between water
and fuel oil with increasing temperature is the base for
centrifugal cleaning (purification).
In a purifier separator, cleaned oil and separated water
are continuously discharged during operation. An
interface is formed in the bowl between the water and (Source: Alfa Laval)
the oil (see Figure 1). This interface position is affected Figure 1: Correct interface position — Oil distributed to all
by several factors, such as density and viscosity channels in the disc stack
of the fuel oil, temperature and flow rate. Figure 2
illustrates that the position of the interface becomes
progressively more sensitive with increasing fuel density.
The generally accepted maximum density limit for a
conventional purifier is 991 kg/m3 (at 15°C).
In order to achieve optimum separation results with
purifiers, the interface between oil and water in the bowl
must be outside the disc stack but at the inside of the
outer edge of the top disc (detailed view in Figure 1). The
position of the interface is affected mainly by the density
and the viscosity of the fuel oil and is adjusted by means
of gravity discs. The correct gravity disc is defined as
the largest disc that does not cause a broken water seal.
With the correct interface position, the oil feed can enter
the narrow channels of the disc stack along its entire
height. This is important since separation takes place in
these channels.
For fuel oils with a viscosity above 180 mm2/s at 50°C, it
is recommended that the highest possible temperature
(98°C) be maintained. The fuel oil has to remain in the
centrifuge bowl for as long as possible by adjusting the (Source: Alfa Laval)

flow rates through the centrifuge so that it corresponds Figure 2: Interface position sensitivity
to the amount of fuel required by the engine.

To ensure optimal cleaning of a fuel oil, a second
separator can be used in series operation, for example,
a purifier followed by a clarifier. The density limit of
991 kg/m3 is not applicable to clarifier operation, but
the combined system of purifier and clarifier in series
remains restricted to a maximum density of 991 kg/m3
at 15°C. Heavy movements of the vessel can stir up dirt,
water and sludge that have accumulated over time on
the bottom of the bunker and settling tanks. Efficient
purification is not always possible when separators have
been put in a parallel purifying function.
In a conventional clarifier (see Figure 4), the water
outlet is closed off and the separated water can only
be discharged with the sludge through the sludge
ports at the bowl periphery. A sludge discharge causes
turbulence in the bowl and leads to less efficient
separation. Consequently, the water handling capability
of a conventional clarifier is insufficient for the cleaning
of fuel oil if the fuel oil has a significant amount of water.
(Source: Alfa Laval) (The prior use of a purifier with its continuous water
removal is mandatory.)
Figure 3: Incorrect interface position

4b. Advanced computer driven fuel

cleaning systems
Example: ALCAP
Fuel oils with densities above 991 kg/m3 at 15°C are
available on the market and can be purified, for example,
with the ALCAP system, which allows fuel oil densities up
to 1010 kg/m3 at 15°C. Fuel oil is continuously fed to the
separator. The oil flow is not interrupted when sludge is
The ALCAP basically operates as a clarifier. Clean oil
is continuously discharged from the clean oil outlet.
Separated sludge and water accumulate at the periphery
of the bowl. Sludge (and water) is discharged after a pre-
set time. If separated water approaches the disc stack
(before the pre-set time interval between two sludge
discharges is reached), some droplets of water start to
escape with the cleaned oil. A water transducer, installed
in the clean oil outlet, immediately senses the small
increase of the water content in the clean oil. A signal
(Source: Alfa Laval) from the water transducer is transmitted to a control
unit and changes in water content are measured.
Figure 4: Conventional clarifier

Increased water content in the cleaned oil is the sign of 5. Fuel oil stability and compatibility
reduced separation efficiency for not only water, but for
the removal of solid particles, as well. When the water Total potential sediment is an important specification for
content in the cleaned oil reaches the pre-set trigger heavy fuels. Currently, nearly all heavy fuel is marketed
point, the control unit will initiate an automatic discharge with the stability guarantee of total potential sediment
of the water that has accumulated in the bowl through (ISO 10307-2) 0.10 m/m % max. Stratification in heavy
the water drain valve. fuel oil tanks is minimal when this specification is met.
The reason for the specification requirement is the
presence of asphaltenes in the heavy fuel. Asphaltenes
are present in crude oil, and are defined as the fraction
insoluble in n-heptane, but soluble in toluene. Their
concentration in the crude oil is dependent on the crude
oil origin itself. Asphaltenes are the highest molecular
weight molecules in the crude, and contain all of the
organically bound vanadium and most of the nickel
found in the crude. They also contain a relatively high
percentage of sulphur and nitrogen. Their hydrogen
content (and hence, combustion characteristics) can be
quite different from one crude to another. Asphaltenes
have a predominantly aromatic structure and the C
and H atoms are combined in ring structures as
illustrated below.
Asphaltenes are polar molecules, kept in colloidal
suspension2 by their outer molecular structure.
(Source: Alfa Laval)
Thermally cracked asphaltene molecules have lost part
Figure 5: ALCAP separator of their outer structure (depending on the severity of the
thermal cracking process), and even visbreaking, which
is a relatively soft thermal cracking process, affects
In summary, water is discharged either with the sludge this outer molecular structure. If too much is removed,
at the periphery of the bowl (Figure 6a): separated part of the asphaltenes can start clogging together, and
water does not reach the disc stack in the pre-set time will no longer be kept in suspension in the fuel matrix,
between sludge discharges, or through the water drain sludge will be formed. Avoiding the formation of this
valve (Figure 6b): separated water reaches the disc stack sludge during the manufacturing of visbroken fuel is
before the pre-set time between sludge discharges. the responsibility of the refinery. A change in the fuel
matrix composition by blending a stable visbroken fuel
to a lower viscosity can also affect the stability of the
asphaltenes. This means that viscosity reduction of a
visbroken fuel with a paraffinic-type cutterstock can
make the fuel unstable. When this happens, the two fuels
are said to be incompatible. When two fuels that are
mixed together do not cause any asphaltene coagulation,
they are compatible with each other. Test methods exist
to predict the final stability of a fuel mixture, and hence,
(Source: Alfa Laval) (Source: Alfa Laval) the compatibility of the two components. In practice, one
chooses a cutterstock with a high enough aromaticity to
Figure 6a: Discharge of Figure 6b: Discharge of
separated water through separated water through 2 Colloidal suspension: a suspension in which gravitational forces are
sludge outlet water drain valve negligible

keep the asphaltenes dispersed (for example, by adding To avoid contamination, VOS, the Dutch organization
heavy and/or light cycle oil) and to provide an adequate that supervises the quality of gasoil delivered in the
stability reserve. Netherlands, offers these points:
Two heavy fuels with diverse compositions (for example, • Good water-housekeeping is essential.
one an atmospheric heavy fuel from paraffinic crude,
• No water = no bacterial contamination
and the other from a relatively severe visbreaker
operation) can also be incompatible with each other. • Fuel-producing companies, dealers, and end-
When storing fuel, the potential of compatibility users have a common responsibility: Bacterial
problems between two different heavy fuels should be contamination can occur in each link of the chain.
kept in mind.
• Consequences of bacterial contamination: filthy fuel
system, plugged fuel filters and erratic engine
6. Commingling of fuels operation
Indiscriminate commingling of fuels can lead to stability • Bacterial contamination can be found in slime, sludge,
problems of the final fuel due to incompatibility of the and as possible corrosion in filters, tanks, lines
fuels used as blend components. Eventual problems/
damages arising from the commingling of fuels are the • What the end-user can do:
responsibility of the individual who made the decision – Make sure no water enters the gasoil
to commingle the fuels. Fuel suppliers guarantee the
stability of the fuel they deliver, but can not be held – Check filters
responsible for compatibility problems with another fuel. – Check bunker and day tank for water
Rules, in descending order of safety: – Whenever necessary, drain tanks. Secure
• Do not commingle fuels. permanent connection devices at the fuel
receiving site
• If commingling is unavoidable, check the compatibility
– Have de-aerating openings which can be closed
of the fuels in advance, and make a final decision
(to prevent waves entering the bunkertank)
based on the test result.
On-site macroscopic (visual) examination offers
• If a compatibility check is not possible (one a first screening between the contaminated and
component unavailable at the moment the decision non-contaminated tanks. Possible microbiological
has to be made), reduce the amount of one fuel to a contamination indicators are:
minimum before adding the second fuel.
• Gasoil is hazy and/or contains suspended fluffy
Note: Generally fuels of the same viscosity grade with material
similar densities will be compatible.
• Emulsion or a slimy interface layer between water
and gasoil
7. Microbiological contamination
• A turbid, badly smelling water bottom, with sludge-
Plugging of filters on gasoil and marine distillate
like deposits
fuel feed lines can be caused by microbiological
contamination (bacteria, fungi and yeast). Bacteria and fungi are the most important agents of
microbiological contamination (yeast normally only
Microbiological contamination can always occur,
occur as co-contaminant). All are living cells, which
especially if temperature conditions are favorable
multiply through cell division.
(between 15 and 40°C, for the most common types), and
if non-dissolved water is present in the fuel.
Microbiological contamination ideally occurs in tropical
and sub-tropical regions: high air humidity combined
with a high ambient temperature.
The prime contamination of fuel is almost always Changes to engine construction and the deterioration
by aerobic bacteria and/or by fungi. Both use the of heavy fuel quality, which began in the late 1970s,
n.– paraffin fraction of the fuel as nutrient. Aerobic spawned significant challenges to marine lubricants.
bacteria need oxygen for their metabolism and evolve Liner lacquering, undercrown deposits, increased oil
at the interface between the water and the gasoil; consumption, base number depletion, hot corrosion of
fungi (aerobic) also attach themselves to the tank wall. the piston crown, oil scraper ring clogging and increased
When oxygen is no longer present, anaerobic bacteria piston deposits occurred. As a result, formulations
start to develop. The anaerobic metabolism process needed to be adapted.
generates hydrogen sulphide. Besides being a very
Medium-speed engine blackening due to HFO
dangerous toxin, hydrogen sulphide can also cause
contamination of the lubricant, piston head corrosion
severe corrosion.
and undercrown deposits were typical consequences of
Anaerobic microbiological contamination should be increased fuel pump pressure and the switch-over from
avoided at all costs. Keep close control on the presence atmospheric heavy fuel to visbroken heavy fuel.
of microbiological contaminants in the complete fuel
It’s possible for HFO to enter the lubricant directly
system, from manufacturing to end use. In regions with
as a result of leaking fuel pumps, or unburned HFO
moderate climatic conditions, efficient water draining
that remains on the cylinder walls can be washed
is often sufficient to avoid exponential growth; in
down into the sump. HFO contamination can now be
sub-tropical and tropical climates, the continuous use
assessed by measuring the concentration of unburned
of a biocide is often the only way to avoid problems.
asphaltenes in the lubricant. Chevron Global Marine
Biocides are also used worldwide to combat “imported”
Products, in cooperation with MAN Diesel in Augsburg,
microbiological problems. Commercially available
developed a test method which accurately measures
biocides have been developed to eliminate the total
this concentration (in %wt) and also qualifies the origin
microbiological contamination (bacteria, fungi and
of the asphaltene ingress. The typical contamination
yeast). There are two different types of biocides: water
level of medium-speed engine oil with asphaltenes, as
soluble and oil soluble. To eliminate microbiological
measured by Chevron Technology Ghent during the last
contamination in fuel tanks, water soluble biocides
ten years, has been between 0.25 and 0.30%wt.
are generally the most cost-effective. The treat rate
can differ according to the type and severity of the
contamination (and the amount of non-removable Common issues encountered with conventional
water). Water drained from tanks after a biocide lubricant due to HFO contamination:
treatment cannot be sent directly to a biological
1. Engine blackening
water purification system; the biocide has to be
deactivated first. The increase of the fuel pump pressure up to 1600 bar
in medium-speed diesel engines results in a higher fuel
8. Fuel contamination in lubricants pump leakage, meaning increased fuel contamination.
Most HFOs originate from visbreaking installations. The
In the 1990s, the demands on marine lubricants changed asphaltenes don’t dissolve in the paraffinic lubricant,
considerably for medium-speed engines. Operating the instead they coagulate and form floating asphalt
engines at higher thermal and mechanical loads made particles of 2 to 5 microns in the lubricant. These
it more difficult for the lubricant to cope with the issues particles are very sticky and form black deposits on all
of borderline lubrication. At the same time, engine metal surfaces of the engine. This then results in black
design changes, such as the introduction of the anti-bore deposits in the cambox and in the crankcase. These
polishing ring, decreased oil consumption in medium- deposits cause oil scraper ring clogging, sometimes
speed engines considerably from 1–1.5 g/kWh or more to resulting in high oil consumption. They may form
0.4–0.7 g/kWh or lower in modern engines. deposits in the hot areas of the piston grooves and on
the piston lands and in the cooling spaces of the piston.

If an oil barrier is used to seal the fuel pump, asphaltene 2. Undercrown deposits and piston head corrosion
coagulation can occur on the surface of the fuel pump
The tendency to increase the piston undercrown
plunger, at times resulting in fuel pump blockages.
temperature can result in carbon deposits on the
These deposits can obstruct the fuel pump drain. This
piston undercrown due to thermal carbonization of the
results in excessive fuel ingress into the lubricant,
lubricant. Also, asphalt particles originating from HFO
aggravating the deposit problems and causing serious
can adhere to the piston undercrown when conventional
viscosity increases due to fuel admixture. These
lubricants are used.
problems can be minimized by effectively removing
the asphalt particles from the lubricant. Undercrown deposits combined with high load
operations can lead to piston head corrosion.
Undercrown deposits cause a reduction in the cooling
effect, resulting in about 100°C increase in piston
temperatures. Above 450°C, some Na/V oxides (when
present) can melt with the piston crown material causing
hot corrosion on the top of the piston.

Figure 7: Conventional lubricant

Figure 9: Conventional lubricant — typical piston deposits in

a medium-speed engine with heavy fuel contamination

Figure 8: Conventional lubricant — showing heavy Figure 10: Conventional lubricant — typical oil scraper
fuel contamination deposits in a medium-speed engine with heavy fuel

To respond to the HFO challenges, Chevron Global
Marine Products developed a lubricant series with
high asphaltene dispersancy, to optimize lubrication
of medium-speed engines and to avoid the issues
resulting from asphaltene contamination. TARO DP/XL
(available as a 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 BN) were developed
specifically to cope with increasing mechanical and
thermal stresses and the changes in fuel quality. Since
its introduction in the mid-1990s, the Taro DP/XL series
has demonstrated excellent performance in a wide range
of medium-speed engine types. Taro DP/XL is currently
recognized as a top-tier product technology for medium-
speed engine lubrication.
Figure 11 illustrates the cambox cleanliness obtained with
Figure 11: Taro DP technology — cambox cleanliness despite
TARO DP technology, compared with the blackening of 4% heavy fuel contamination
the cambox using a conventional lubricant, as illustrated
in Figure 8.


Attachment I: Crude oil refining Additional streams coming from the catalytic cracker are
light cycle oil (increases the gasoil pool) and heavy cycle
The purpose of crude oil refining is to convert crude and oil (base stock for carbon black manufacturing). Both
other feedstocks into saleable products. The desired streams are also used in heavy fuel oil blending.
products are mainly gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, gasoil
and diesel. 5. Catalytic hydrocracking
In order to obtain these products, crude oil is first Some refineries use catalytic hydrocracking as a
separated into fractions by distillation, then the different supplementary operation to catalytic cracking. Catalytic
fractions are further processed in order to obtain the hydrocracking further upgrades heavy aromatic stocks
desired characteristics and optimum yield. to gasoline, jet fuel and gasoil material. The heaviest
aromatic fractions of a cat cracker are the normal
The different processes used in a modern refinery are:
feedstock for a hydrocracker. Hydrocracking requires
1. Crude oil desalting a very high investment, but makes the refinery yield
pattern nearly independent from the crude oil feed.
Water and inorganic salts are removed in an electrostatic
field. The main purpose of crude oil desalting is to 6. Visbreaking
protect the refining process units against corrosion.
The feedstock of a visbreaker is the bottom product of
2. Atmospheric distillation the vacuum unit, which has an extremely high viscosity.
In order to reduce that viscosity and to produce a
Crude oil is a product with a very wide boiling range. marketable product, a relatively mild thermal cracking
In an atmospheric distillation column the fractions operation is performed. The amount of cracking is
boiling below 360°C are distilled off under reflux, and, limited by the overruling requirement to safeguard
according to boiling range, recovered as naphtha, kero, the heavy fuel stability. The light product yield of the
and gasoil type stocks. Atmospheric distillation is limited visbreaker (around 20%) increases the blendstock pool
to a maximum temperature of 360°C, because otherwise for gasoil.
coking would start to occur, which is not desirable at this
stage of crude oil refining. 7. Coking (delayed coking, fluid coking, flexicoking)
3. Vacuum distillation Coking is a very severe thermal cracking process, and
completely destroys the residual fuel fraction. The yield
In order to distill off a heavier cut without exceeding the of a coker unit is lighter-range boiling material, which
360°C temperature limit, a second distillation is done ultimately goes to the blending pool for the lighter
under reduced pressure: the vacuum distillation. The products, and coke, which is essentially solid carbon with
distillate fraction of the vacuum distillation unit is the varying amounts of impurities. The heavier distillate
feedstock for a catalytic cracking unit (see item 4). fraction of a coker can be used as feedstock for a
4. Catalytic cracking (for example, fluidized bed hydrocracker (see item 5).
catalytic cracking) More processes are required before the end products
leave a refinery. Most processes are designed to meet
The main feedstock for a catalytic cracker is vacuum
the technical requirements of the end products, others
gasoil. The cracking operation breaks large molecules
are needed to meet environmental limits (mainly sulphur
into smaller, lighter molecules. The process runs at high
reduction, both in the end products and in the refinery
temperatures, and in the presence of the appropriate
catalyst (crystalline aluminum silicate).
Atmospheric residue, with a low metal and MCR content, 8. Catalytic reforming and isomerization
can also be used as catalytic cracker feed, necessitating Both processes are catalytic reforming, and are intended
an adjustment of the catalyst type. to upgrade low-octane naphta fractions of the crude
The main purpose of a catalytic cracker is to produce distillation unit into high octane components for gasoline
light hydrocarbon fractions, which will increase the production. The type of catalyst and the operating
refinery gasoline yield. conditions determine if the reforming is mainly to

iso-paraffins or to aromatics. The terminology The Claus process consists of the partial combustion of
“reforming” is generally used for the change to the hydrogen sulphide rich gas stream (sufficient air is
aromatics, while the change to iso-paraffins is referred introduced to combust 1/3 of the H2S to SO2). This SO2
to as “isomerization”. Isomerization is normally done on then reacts (under influence of a catalyst) with H2S in
a lighter fraction (C5/C6), while reforming is done on the the order of one SO2 for two H2S, and thus provides
heavy naphtha fraction (C7 and heavier, up to 150°C). elemental sulphur. The tail gas of the Claus unit is still
rich in SO2 , and environmental legislation can require
9. Alkylation the further clean-up of this tail gas.
This is another process intended to increase the yield
of valuable gasoline blend components. Alkylation is a Attachment II: Reproducibility (R) of marine fuel
catalyst-steered combination reaction of low molecular test methods
weight olefins with an iso-paraffin to form higher
molecular weight iso-paraffins. The feed to the alkylation Density at 15°C, kg/m3
unit is C3 and C4s from the catalytic cracker unit and 1. ISO 3675
iso-butane. For transparent, non viscous products:
R = 1.2 kg/m3 or 0.0012 kg/l
10. Hydrotreating For opaque products: R = 1.5 kg/m3 or
Hydrotreating process is a process that uses hydrogen to 0.0015 kg/l
remove impurities from product streams, while replacing 2. ISO 12185
these impurities by hydrogen. When hydrotreating is
For transparent middle distillates:
used to remove sulphur (very low sulphur limits in the
R = 0.5 kg/m3 or 0.0005 kg/l
specifications of gasoline and gasoil), it is called hydro- For crude oils and other petroleum products:
desulphurization. It is a catalytic process. The process R = 1.5 kg/m3 or 0.0015 kg/l
is generally used on kerosene and gasoil fractions.
Residual hydro-desulphurization is also a process, and is Kinematic viscosity, mm2/s
feasible, but not economical. ISO 3104
11. Merox Heavy fuels: at 50°C : R = 0.074x
Where x is the average of the results being
A merox unit is used on naphtha and kerosene streams. compared
It is a catalytic process which is not intended to remove
the sulphur from the stream, but to convert mercaptan Flash point, P.M., closed tester
sulphur molecules (corrosive, and obnoxious smelling) ISO 2719
into disulphide type molecules. Procedure A (distillate fuels) : 0.071x
Where x is the average of the results (°C)
12. Sulphur recovery being compared
Procedure B (residual fuel oils) : 6°C
As a result of the removal of sulphur from the refinery
streams by hydrotreating, and the generation of Pour Point, °C
hydrogen sulphide during cracking and coking, refinery ISO 3016
gases contain a very high concentration of hydrogen
R = 6.59°C
sulphide. The simple solution to eliminate the highly
toxic hydrogen sulphide is to burn it, but this then Cloud Point, °C
generates SO2 , which contributes to acidification ISO 3015
problems. In order to safeguard the environment, the For distillate fractions: R = 4°C
hydrogen sulphide is converted in refineries to elemental
sulphur. This is typically accomplished by extracting the
hydrogen sulphide from the refinery gas by a chemical
solvent, for example, an aqueous amine solution. The
rich solution is then preheated and stripped by steam.

Sulphur, % (m/m) Vanadium, mg/kg
1. ISO 8754 1. ISO 14597
R = 0.00812(x + 0.15) The method is applicable to products having V
Where x is the mean sulphur content content in the range of 5 to 1000 mg/kg, although
reproducibility data have only been determined up
2. ISO 14596 to 100 mg/kg for V
For sulphur content in the range 0.10–0.99 m/m For V content between 5–30 mg/kg: R = 5 mg/kg
% : R = 0.02 For V content between 31–100 mg/kg:
For sulphur content in the range 1.00–2.50 m/m R = 10 mg/kg
% : R = 0.04
2. IP 501
Cetane index (4 variable equation) R = 1.6799 x0.6
ISO 4264 Where x is the average of the results (mg/kg)
Precision depends on the precision of the original being compared
density and distillation recovery temperature
calculations. 3. IP 470
R = 3.26 x0.5
Micro carbon residue, % (m/m) Where x is the average of the results (mg/kg)
ISO 10370 being compared
R = X 2/3 × 0.2451
Where X is the average of the results being Cat fines Al+Si, mg/kg
compared 1. ISO 10478, IP 501
ICP detection:
Ash, % (m/m) Al: R = 0.337x
ISO 6245 Si: R = 0.332x
For ash content between 0.001 and 0.079 wt %: Where x is the average of the results (mg/kg)
R = 0.005 being compared
For ash content between 0.080 and 0.180 wt %:
R = 0.024 2. IP 470
AAS detection:
Total existent sediment, % (m/m) Al: R = 0.789 x0.67
ISO 10307-1 Si: R = 1.388 x0.67
Heavy fuels: R = 0.294 √x Where x is the average of the results (mg/kg)
Distillate fuels containing heavy components: being compared
R = 0.174 √x
Where x is the average of the test results Ca, Zn, P, mg/kg
in % (m/m) 1. Ca
IP 501 (ICP) R = 0.6440 x0.65
Total potential sediment, ageing, % (m/m) IP 470 (AAS) R = 1.139 x0.8
ISO 10307-2
Heavy fuels: R = 0.294 √x 2. Zn
Distillate fuels containing heavy components: IP 501 (ICP) R = 0.5082 x0.7
R = 0.174 √x IP 470 (AAS) R = 0.580 x0.75
Where x is the average of the test results in
3. P
% (m/m)
IP 501 (ICP) R = 1.2765 x0.55
Water, % (v/v) IP 500 (UV) R = 1.2103 x0.4
ISO 3733 Where x is the average of the results (mg/kg)
Water collected between 0.0 and 1.0 ml: being compared
R = 0.2 ml
Water collected between 1.1 and 25 ml: R = 0.2 ml
or 10% of mean, whichever is greater
Attachment III: Gas turbine fuel requirements Sulphidation corrosion is avoided by removing the
sodium and potassium from the fuel by stringent water
Most heavy-duty gas turbines operate on natural gas washing up to the level Na + K < 1 mg/kg. Vanadic
and distillate fuels. Gas turbines operating on natural corrosion is counteracted by the addition of magnesium
gas require minimum fuel treatment. Distillate fuels, additives to the fuel from the moment V > 0.5 mg/kg.
immediately after refining, have no or extremely low The complex oxides between Mg and V which are then
contamination levels of water, solids and trace metals. formed, are no longer corrosive (traditionally, a m/m
Contamination (mainly by water) during transport can ratio Mg/V of three is adhered to).
not be excluded, and centrifuging is the best method
for the removal of water and solids. Sodium salts Heavy-duty gas turbines have been operating
are very detrimental for gas turbines, and seawater satisfactorily on ash forming fuels since the mid-1980s.
contamination must be completely removed. It is clear that the need to use magnesium-based
additives to combat vanadic corrosion imposes a
Gas turbine manufacturers have also developed efficient technical and economical upper limit on the vanadium
technologies for gas turbine operation with ash forming content of the fuel.
fuels (for example, heavy fuels), as a cost-effective
option instead of gasoil for sites where natural gas will
not be available in the foreseeable future.
The use of heavy fuels requires that attention be paid to
two types of potential hot path corrosion:
• Sulphidation corrosion, caused by alkaline sulphates
(mainly Na2SO4)
• Vanadic corrosion, caused by low melting vanadium
oxides (V2O 5)


References Molière, M., Gazonnet, J.P., Vivicorsi, J.P., “EGT

Experience with gas turbines burning ash-forming fuels”,
Alfa Laval, Technical information, “ALCAP, Cleaning GEC ALSTHOM Technical Review, 1993, NA1.11.
system for fuel oil”.
Selley, R.C., “Elements of petroleum geology”, 2nd
CIMAC, “Recommendations regarding fuel quality for edition.
diesel engines”, volume 21, 2006.
Verhelst, A., “Latest developments in marine lubrication
Dr. Gehring H, Van Geeteruyen C, “New test methods for technology”, Texaco Technology Ghent.
HFO contamination of lube oils”
VOS, Publication Stichting VOS
Gary, J. H., Handwerk, G. E., “Petroleum refining,
Technology and Economics”, 2nd edition, Revised and The terms and definitions taken from ISO 8217:2005
Expanded. Petroleum products — Fuels (class F) — Specifications
of marine fuels, Tables 1 and 2 are reproduced with
ISO 8217:2005, “Petroleum products — Fuels (class F) the permission of the International Organization for
— Specifications of marine fuels. Standardization, ISO. This standard can be obtained
Mansoori, G.A., “Arterial blockage/fouling in petroleum from any ISO member and from the Web site at
and natural gas industries (asphaltene/bitumen, resin.)”, www.iso.org. Copyright remains with ISO.
University Illinois-Chicago/Thermodynamics Research

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